AFP Conference Roundup: Understanding, Engaging and Cultivating Women as Donors
"If someone from the outside is looking into your organization, do they see themselves?" Carpenter asked.
Offer women board seats and leadership roles, and seek input from women leaders in the community. But don't add women to your board and staff for window dressing; add them because they will enrich and strengthen your organization and can really make a difference.
3. Prepare your staff to communicate with women. Does your staff know that women as donors are different and how they are different? Focus on communications and relationships. Add women to prospect lists and ask them for gifts, and publicize news of their gifts. Relationships between women donors are based on trust, mutual respect and community responsibility. Carpenter said to focus on the three Cs: connect, collaborate, celebrate.
Women have an "it takes a village" mentality, she said, which is why giving circles, where groups of like-minded individuals come together to raise funds and make a difference, are so effective. There are more than 400 women's giving circles in the U.S., ranging in size from three members to 500 members. Giving circles pool the resources of many, target an area of the community to give to, and help increase awareness and understanding of philanthropy.
Carpenter recommended the following five steps to creating a giving circle within your organization:
Identify key leaders who have a passion for your cause, the time and energy to devote to organizing a giving circle, and the charisma to pull others into it. You want people who are available and accessible, but who also have the means to give.
Have these key leaders hold focus groups, inviting other prospective women donors to their homes to ask them open-ended questions about what the goal of the giving circle should be. Tabulate the results and follow up with participants.